Tuesday, April 03, 2007

"Don't Spin The Dial"

Mom could not see the value in a tv remote control. “I hope I never get to the point where I am too lazy to get up and walk to the set and change channels,” she said.

Then she got a tv that came with a remote and no controls on the front. “I got used to this quickly,” were her first words.

In the old days of click-dial channel selectors, sometimes you had to go a distance from one favorite station to another. The temptation was to spin it, but you always heard, “Don’t spin the dial!” Apparently, the thing would fall off or fall apart; nobody ever actually saw it happen, but we all knew it would.

When I went into broadcast engineering, I saw my share of tv innards. Those old tuner barrels could take a direct hit from a hammer and not even wince; I doubt a lifetime of spinning would make a bit of difference.

I’ve heard many a story as to why there is no Channel One on our tv sets. Amazing stories. At the risk of deflating any conspiracy theories and/or Government Secrets, the answer is quite simple: There was an amateur radio band where Channel Two is now and the FCC thought it would be better to have the amateurs on one side of a tv channel, instead of on the side of two. So it moved the amateur operators to what would have been Channel One, where it remains, and started the tv band with Channel Two.

I much prefer the story that it’s a secret CIA channel.